Disney on a Dime {But seriously, I just did it} Part 2

When we last left off, I had shared some of my prep for an “on the cheap” Disney vacation with my son. Our room cost roughly $84 with points, flights roughly $23 with points, and I used my Target Red Card to pre-purchase $200 worth of Disney gift cards for $190. Overwhelmingly, though, many of you folks were concerned I was disregarding ticket cost. Here is the deal, I knew we would be going on a bigger Disney trip later in the year … so I bought myself an annual pass! Because this trip was before my son turned three, he was FREE! The annual pass cost was $779, but I purchased it using gift cards purchased from Target using my Red Card for 5% off!

If I had not invested in an annual pass, our ticket cost would have been roughly $290 for a three-day ticket for myself. This would put the total vacation at 3 days for two of us at roughly $587 total.

But let’s get to our actual park spending and how I kept it UNDER $200. Some of these tips I covered in my original post, but some bear repeating!

First tip: BYOS aka bring your own snacks.

I almost ALWAYS have 3 days worth of pouches, fruit leathers, cereal bars, and other packaged snacks on hand (which means no TRUE additional cost). I load them up into gallon zippy bags labeled by day for easy access when packing our park bag for the day! This will save you anywhere from $5-20/day depending on your kids’ snack habits. All three park days we had one treat in the park. These were all under $5!! Mickey shaped ice cream FTW!

Second tip: BYOB.

Water bottles, y’all … we aren’t talking crazy! I had my son’s sippy cup and a water bottle of my own to fill up throughout the day. This keeps you hydrated and keeps you on budget!

Third tip: Bring some new Disney toys with you to have to start each day.

Some people refer to these as Tinker Bell gifts for their children. I usually get a book, some stickers, and maybe a figurine. This helps dissuade from the souvenir itch AND serves as a great distraction during early morning park transportation. Think dollar spot at Target! I typically spend about $10 ahead of a trip to save $100 in “I wants.”

Fourth tip: Enjoy a buffet breakfast one or two mornings!

These typically include character interaction, are FAR less expensive than lunch or dinner buffets, and you can fill up + nab some extra whole fruits for later in the day! And because kids under three enjoy buffet meals for free … that’s an extra incentive! We had one character breakfast buffet this trip for a total of $38 including tip for the both of us. Worth every penny!

Henry and I enjoyed pizza in Italy at Epcot ($42 including drinks), breakfast at Be our Guest ($25), lunch at a few of Disney’s fast casual establishments ($22), and a breakfast with Disney Jr. characters at Hollywood Studios ($38) this past trip!

Our food total, including snacks, was right under $150! Leaving room for a souvenir!

Outside of myself splurging one night on an in room sitter to enjoy Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival solo, we enjoyed all of our meals AND snacks AND a new light saber on our $200 gift card budget!

If you want to spend thousands per head on a once in a lifetime experience with the Mouse, I am ALL for it! Because I want to be able to enjoy the Magic with Henry over a handful of smaller visits, I’ve made it my mission to find ways to save and enjoy our trips for not much more than the cost of a New Orleans staycation!

Sarah Joy Hays is a native of Louisiana and graduate of LSU! She returned to Baton Rouge in 2015 after 6 years living and working in DC. She is a proud momma to an enthusiastic, red-haired toddler and is navigating all of this as a solo parent; fully relying on group texts with other moms, coffee, and Jesus. Sarah Joy, or SJ, has devoted much of her abundant spare time to the Moms on Campus, South Baton Rouge Presbyterian Church, and her newly founded Foundation that will focus on emergency disaster response. She claims to love to read, journal, and cook; but only manages one of the three out of daily necessity. SJ dreams of having a Target collaboration based on coffee mugs and dry shampoo one day… till then she will enjoy running her bakery CounterspaceBR and growing a consulting business!


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